Tuesday, March 6, 2018

If it Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It! By Gail Roughton

And Speaking of Broken...

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed this thing humans do?  Something can be working just fine, and then, out of the blue--Bam!  Somebody sneaks up behind you and something you depend on as being fixed and immutable isn't fixed and immutable anymore.  It's changed.  

I guess in the back of my mind I always knew this, but this past Christmas brought that little fact forcibly to my attention.  See, we're a board game family.  Always were, and the good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, always will be.  Certainly we go to a lot of effort to insure that the two current members of the next generation, presently 11 and 5, are very well acquainted with all the classic board games their mother and uncles grew up with.  Said classic board games having resided in the hall closet--some going on thirty and even forty years old now--a few of them had, to all intents and purposes, bitten the dust and were in dire need of replacement.  

Monopoly's gone modern and global to a large extent, producing different versions offering global properties, complete with electronic banks and debit cards, all of which I carefully avoided when ordering our original, standard Monopoly's replacement.  I have this insane theory that punching a debit card into an electronic bank that instantly computes a player's assets and deducts or adds the appropriate amounts of money to the players' balances really doesn't do much insofar as teaching grammar school students how to add and subtract and make change, go figure.  So I was very careful to buy the version that still uses paper money. The same version my children had grown up playing.  Not.

Well, not exactly, anyway.  Did y'all know the rules for initial distribution of money in Monopoly have changed?  The rules I still remember learning at age 6 or 7 specified each player received ten $1.00's, five $5.00's, five $10.00's, six $20.00's, two $50.00's, two $100.00, and two $500.00's.  And all the money came in a long, narrow cardboard compartment made like a cash register drawer, with each individual compartment actually holding all the different denominations securely in place.  So imagine my surprise when we first opened the new Monopoly Grandmama and Granddaddy had wrapped for the kids for Christmas and found out the money rules had changed?  Now the proper distribution is five $1.00's, one $5.00, two $10.00's, one $20.00, one $50.00, four $100.00's and two $500.00's.  And Grandmama's street cred as the Knower of All Rules of all board games took a nosedive.  Not only that, but the little cardboard compartments are no more, there's a plastic tray with compartments at each end to hold the deeds, Community Chest and Chance cards and little slots between them for standing each denomination up vertically, which means they fall all over themselves during actual play.  Now I ask you--what were they thinking when they figured that was an improvement?  

All that's manageable, though.  A bit of an adjustment but hey! I'm flexible.  Then we opened the new Stratego because that was the one our 5 year old granddaughter wanted to play. It's a two player game, but no way is a 5 year old playing it by herself, so she played with Granddaddy and I played the other side.  And the world rocked in its orbit.  Rocked, I tell you, rocked!  The version of Stratego my boys grew up playing assigned  the higher numbers to the lower ranks, with Scouts being 9's, Miner's being 8's, on up through Colonels being 3's, the General 2 and the Marshall 1.  The board for our original game's actually still in pretty good shape and it even says so. Plus we still have the pieces and since there's only one 1 for each color, it's a sure bet that's gotta be the Marshall dude, am I right?

But the rules for the new edition?  Oh, dear Lord.  They reversed it!!  The higher numbers are assigned to the highest ranks and the lower numbers to the lower ranks.  The Marshall's a 10! The Miners, the most valuable of all pieces regardless of how high an opinion the Marshall has of himself, the only ones who can diffuse a mine field, the ones who'd been 8's since the beginning of time--they're 3's!!!! Do you have any idea how hard it is switch-hit retired brains from an 8 to a 3?  And the Scouts are 2's, not 9's! Forget any of that for a minute when you're setting up and you're doomed, because you've put all your high ranking officers right up in the front lines and you're using them as Scouts! 

Do you know what this means? It means sometime in the last twenty years, somebody somewhere decided it was a good idea to completely reverse the rules of Stratego.  Minds. Blown. Hubby and I, despite ourselves, kept right on playing as though Miners were 8s' and then groaning, "Oh, no! That's not right, I did it again!" We haven't been the same since. Stratego wasn't broken, I can't understand why they had to fix it.  

Speaking of broken, though, did you know--legend has it there're a few "broken" spots in a stretch of ocean known as the Bermuda Triangle, a spot where things just disappear.  In reality though, maybe there's nothing "broken" about it.  Maybe there's a door or two that just pick and choose when they open and who comes through...

You ain't in Kansas anymore!

For More by Gail Roughton, Visit BWL!

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